10 Simple Sustainability Steps and NSF Personal Sustainability

Show Me the Money: 10 Simple Sustainability Steps
People Can Take to Save Money and the Environment
by Terry Gips, President, Alliance for Sustainability Terry@afors.org
1. Recycle and Think Before You Toss: Just over half the aluminum cans in the US are recycled.
We throw away enough cans in 3 months to rebuild the entire US commercial air fleet. Recycled
cans use 95% less energy, save money and create jobs. Minnesotans annually toss 1 million tons
of recyclable materials worth $312 million and their disposal costs $200 million. If the US did all
the recycling and composting possible, we could eliminate 21% of all US coal-fired power plants.
2. Use Rechargeable Batteries: Using rechargeable batteries that are recycled can eliminate a
great deal of unnecessary waste and mining while performing as well if not better than alkaline
batteries. While rechargeables cost slightly more, just two of them when properly charged can
save more than $1000 over their life, which is more than a 100-fold return on your $6 investment.
3. Switch to LED Light Bulbs: An LED will save 6-fold or $557 compared to incandescents over its
50,000 hour life, last 42x longer, use 1/10th the energy, and provide better light with a 1 to 5 year
payback. Unlike CFLs, they’re dimmable and instant on with no mercury. Converting just “A- type”
basic US incandescents to LEDs would save the amount of electricity used by 7 million homes.
4. Do Smarter Commuting: Switching to public transit or biking can save $9,343/yr and reduce
household C02 emissions 10%. Compared to other household actions, public transit or biking can
be 10 times greater in reducing greenhouse gases. You can save 25%+ on your fuel bill by
keeping your tires properly inflated, avoiding sudden starts/stops and driving the speed limit.
5. Switch to a Battery-Powered Electric Lawn Mower: One hour of gas mowing emits the same
amount of smog as driving a car 340 miles. A battery-powered electric mower has instant start,
fewer emissions and 1/10th the noise, while costing 14x less to operate, only $5/year vs. $70.
6. Avoid Plastic Water Bottles and Use Refillable Ones: Save $364/person and up to $6,000/yr
for a family by making the switch and reduce the 50 billion plastic water bottles Americans used in
2006, of which only 23% were recycled, resulting in 38 billion water bottles landfilled annually.
7. Eat Fewer Animal Products: Vegetarian diets cut food costs and a vegan diet can save $1277 a
year. Direct US health care costs attributable to meat consumption are estimated at up to $61.4
billion/yr (1992), including hypertension, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. According to the UN,
global livestock production is one of the 2 or 3 gravest environmental threats and causes 18% of
climate change. Low-meat diets could cut climate change costs in half by 2050, saving $20 trillion.
8. Consume Less Water: Turn off the tap when brushing teeth (saves 1 gallon of water/use), use a
faucet and shower aerator (half the water and hot water costs) and use a front-load washer (50%
less water, 30% less energy). Save $ & energy since water pumping is a city’s largest energy use.
9. Use Less Paper and Only Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR): E-communications reduce paper
10-30%, duplex copying 20% and cloth napkins/towels 100% ($1,354/$1,000 over 5 years each).
A ton of PCR paper saves enough energy to power a home 6 months, plus 7,000 gallons of water.
10. Consume Less and Live Happier, More Fulfilled Lives: Ask whether or not you really need
something before purchasing it. Conscious consumption can save money and more fully meet
your needs with less stuff. It’s as simple as smiling, helping others and having fun & community.
Copyright August 15, 2012 Terry Gips Terry@sustainabilityassociates.com Sustainability
Associates www.sustainabilityassociates.com 612-374-4765 Alliance for Sustainability
www.afors.org 612-331-1099 (May be reproduced with full credit of above)
Natural Step Framework – Personal Action Check List
Four Principles for Sustainability
3 Months
1. What We Take from the Earth’s Crust – Mining of Metals/Minerals, Burning Fossil Fuel
Conserve energy by turning off lights and computers when not in use, unplug chargers
Use compact fluorescent bulbs (then recycle) and efficient Energy Star appliances
In winter, decrease heating (68° if home, 58° if not or night), insulate, have energy audit
In summer, use fan, reduce cooling (72° if home, 85° if not), and use trees for shading
Reduce hot water use with showers, baths, laundry, dishwasher and frontloading washer
Use natural landscaping, human or electric battery-powered lawn mower, avoid leaf blowers
Use renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal) and purchase green energy
Bike, walk, use public transit, telecommute, carpool or clean/energy-efficient vehicle
Eco-drive: properly inflate tires, drive speed limit, avoid sudden stops/starts, tune car
Recycle metals, fluorescents, cell phones, computers and other electronics and white goods
Do green building/remodeling; Purchase used household goods & toys and reuse/recycle
Use rechargeable batteries (recycle at end of their life) & non-mercury thermometers
Avoid heavy metals: Mercury/lead-free toys, non-uranium fire alarms, RoHS-compliant products
2. What We Make – Hazardous Chemicals, Pesticides, Plastics
Use natural, non-toxic, non-chlorine cleaning products; use green dry cleaning
Use natural, non-toxic personal care products and regular soap (avoid anti-bacterial soaps)
Recycle & Reduce plastics: Reusable BPA-free water bottles, foodware, cups, plates & cutlery
Purchase non-toxic, non-VOC, formaldehyde & phthalate-free children’s toys, paints & goods
Replace hazardous pesticides with safe, natural pest control in home, yard, garden, and work
Buy certified organic food (preferably local) and avoid genetically modified foods
Buy clothes made from organic cotton and hemp; purchase/obtain used clothes and pass on
3. What We Do to the Earth – Eco-Systems, Bio-Diversity and Natural Resources
Reduce paper use with e-communications, e-billing, 2-sided copying & cloth napkins and towels
Reuse corrugated & cardboard boxes and then recycle; Get off junk mail and catalogue lists
Use 100% post-consumer recycled copy paper, stationery, towels, tissue & toilet paper
Reuse wood and use non-Old Growth, certified, sustainably-harvested wood products
Compost waste food and yard and garden material
Reduce water use with efficient shower heads, faucets and toilets; use gray water
Protect & enhance wildlife habitat; reduce paving; create rain garden & barrel; use green roof
Address sprawl, reduce work commute, encourage sustainable building development
Avoid sea food from endangered species and factory fish and seafood farms
Eat a plant-based diet and more local, organic produce and grains; plant an organic garden
4. How We Meet Human Needs – Health, Well-Being, Social Justice, Community
Smile; treat everyone with respect; practice random acts of kindness & conscious consumption
Live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle: exercise, diet, sleep, meditation, play, creativity, Sabbath
Fulfill your fundamental needs, develop a sense of community and participate in organizations
Work to create a just society; donate time, money & resources to help the disadvantaged
When traveling, practice eco-tourism and better understand different cultures
Use socially responsible investments and pension funds; help build a local, living economy
Buy Fair Trade & products from artisans, shop at co-ops & local sustainable business
Copyright 2012 Terry Gips terry@sustainabilityassociates.com www.sustainabilityassociates.com
612-374-4765 Alliance for Sustainability www.afors.org 612-331-1099 May be reproduced with full credit.